Dirty Trading Places with poor sanitation and drainage
Dirty Trading Places with poor sanitation and drainage

The headline shouldn’t have come as a surprise: “Zambia police arrest 55 in riots over cholera control rules”.

Zambia’s response to the cholera outbreak, which began in October and has killed more than 70 people, has in the last few weeks been a show of force.Earlier in January, President Edgar Lungu took to the streets of Lusaka flanked by soldiers in a clean-up operation that saw unhygienic markets and restaurants shuttered. He railed against the city council’s failings. Street vending was banned across the city.

But then the government began introducing regulations that granted powers to suppress, starting with a ban on gatherings of five or more people.The interdict encompassed weddings, funerals and sports events. In one instance, police used tear gas to break up a church service.To prevent travel, Lusaka’s main passport office was closed, while the start of the school year was postponed.In the badly affected Kanyama township, an 18:00 curfew was declared. The residents felt otherwise about the situation. Last week, they rioted.

That Zambia wants to be seen attacking the cholera outbreak head-on is understandable, but some of its chosen tactics are questionable at best.Cholera doesn’t spread through the air, or even by casual person-to-person contact. It has to be ingested through contaminated water or food.

A December report by the country’s National Public Health Institute pointed to water drawn from shallow wells for household use and drinking as the main driver behind the outbreak.And when the fundamentals of cholera prevention – like access to clean water – are missing, markets and public gatherings can indeed become places of transmission.

But Lungu’s heavy-handed response to the crisis is a distraction from the fact that his government has failed to provide those fundamentals – and provides one more chapter in a presidency marked by autocracy.

In April 2017, opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was jailed and charged with treason after his motorcade failed to give way to Lungu’s as they both headed to the same event.The midnight arrest was an over-the-top affair, with about 100 police officers reportedly damaging property and assaulting employees before Hichilema was taken into custody.It would be another four months before he was released.

Then, in July, Lungu declared a partial state of emergency following a string of fires at some of Lusaka’s major markets – a declaration that allowed for meetings to be banned, premises shut down and curfews implemented, while people could be arrested and properties searched without warrants.

The government says its fight against cholera is bearing fruit. The rate of infection is slowing, and schools and markets are expected to reopen soon.But any success Zambia is experiencing has less to do with curfews and crowd control than with leaning in to the basics of cholera management: clean water, proper sanitation and good hand hygiene.

Cholera is a regular event in Zambia. No small wonder: about 4.8-million Zambians don’t have access to clean water, according to Unicef, while 6.6-million – half of the population – have no access to sanitation facilities.And this year’s outbreak has hit the country particularly hard, with more than 3,200 cases reported.

The next outbreak will only be prevented by investing in access to safe water and hygiene now. Curfews and arrests will be futile in the fight.

By LT Blogger

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25 COMMENTS

  1. When you just hit this part, “…The residents felt otherwise about the situation. Last week, they rioted.” you realise that this article is rubbish. Kanyama residents didn’t riot, upnd thugs were given money to cause mayhem so that it looks like residents rioted. The thugs beat innocent people, killed a PF ward chairman, burnt LCC tippers…IT WAS TOTALLY DISGUSTING!!!!!!!

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    • Sometimes a little bit more force is needed when dealing with people like UPND who oppose anything even if it means well to their well being. Lusaka is clean now and you still want to blame Lungu’s initiative? Shame on you ba UPND

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    • INSTEAD OF TRYING TO ACCUMULATE POLITICAL MILAGE, CAN’T UPND MEMBERS AND OTHERS START COMMENTING AND SUGGESTING WAYS OF PERMANENTLY ERADICATING UBUSALI (FILTHY) AND CHOLERA THAT COMES AS A RESULT OF UBUSALI? THIS IS NO TIME TO WIN FANTASISED VOTES. IT IS TIME TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM ONCE AND FOR ALL.

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    • @ Peter, I am non-political and have no political affiliation, so please do not automatically assume I am UPND!

      You asked for ways of permanently eradicating the filth and the cholera that it brings?

      Here it is – Get an accountable properly functioning Government that uses taxpayers money for the things they are duty bound to do – making empty promises during elections just to get votes and then doing nothing after that is NONSENSE!

      An ignorant, incompetent and corrupt administration that is only interested in filling their own pockets after coming into power will NEVER manage that. Appointing unqualified cardres to top positions just because of party loyalty and suppressing the opposition takes development backwards. If that is all the current Government can do, things will only…

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  2. And all this visionless excuse for a President can tell us is something we all already know – Cholera is spread by contaminated water supplies!
    Should we remind him that he has borrowed 17 BILLION US DOLLARS in our name, that we Zambians will have to PAY BACK, supposedly to fix these problems?

    “…regulations that granted powers to suppress, starting with a ban on gatherings of five or more people.The interdict encompassed weddings, funerals and sports events. In one instance, police used tear gas to break up a church service.To prevent travel, Lusaka’s main passport office was closed, while the start of the school year was postponed.In the badly affected Kanyama township, an 18:00 curfew was declared. The residents felt otherwise about the situation.”

    None of that will fix the…

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  3. None of that will fix the problem. Spending money on sanitation and CLEAN WATER SUPPLIES is the answer.

    Not spending more money on more travel to collect more travel allowances!

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    • Street vending is not the problem….asian countries like Thailand and others manage it well, even incooperating it into their toursit plans……it is regular and systimatic cleaning and maintenance regime…….with this in place there is no room for complacency and caders extorting funds as those paid rates will be needed for cleaning and maintenance thus providing proper employment and sanity to our public spaces…..

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  4. Force is the answer to street vending and lawlessness in our Country now. Trust me we have lost order. We need it for now.

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    • @ Bemba man… you are on point shimwana!!!

      It is a known fact that to stop a habit requires a strong force! I personally would commend the president to leave military in the streets of Lusaka and punish the idi.ots still littering.

      Old habits die hard, only force can resolve stu.pudity we have learnt.

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    • @bemba man, have you forgotten that there have always been laws about street vending?

      And it was the PF GOVERNMENT that allowed those laws to be ignored? If Zambia has “lost order” just who caused that to happen?

      The blame for the Cholera falls squarely on Edgar CHOLERA Lungus shoulders!!!

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    • But whilst we exert force… the government needs to go to work to create industries and absorb these people.

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    • @Duno… they are sorting out a problem they created. I see nothing wrong with making a right of one’s wrong. Do you?

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    • Street vending is not the problem….asian countries like Thailand and others manage it well, even incooperating it into their toursit plans……it is regular and systimatic cleaning and maintenance regime…….with this in place there is no room for complacency and caders extorting funds as those paid rates will be needed for cleaning and maintenance thus providing proper employment and sanity to our public spaces…..

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    • So if one is sh1ting in chibuku boxes and throwing in the streets Spaka will also sh1t and throw it as long as someone is managing your sh1t well?

      What a joke you are!

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    • @1.6 ZUBA

      Is sh.it.ing street vending ??

      Some people are just thinker than dogs sh.it.

      toilets are different from street vending iwe…..no wonder you can not run anything..

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    • You know that is why African will forever struggle……it is populated with people like this ZUBA chap above……who think things are not connected. When someone calls for cleaning and maintenance of our public spaces they think that does not include toilets !!!!

      They go on a house building frenzy they forget water pipes and sewage …

      Black man is difficult….

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  5. You heard it from Spaka first…….lungu and PF have spent $17 billion yet millions of citizens have no clean drinking water or acceptable sanitation right in the capital city , worse still lungu left hundreds of thousands of chawama residents without clean drinking water when he was MP there and now after spending colosul sums those people still are without clean drinking water , nothing has changed only corrupt lungus account…….

    A pathetic record for a so called pro poor party and a diabolical record for a suspected corrupt theif as president who claims to be ” of and from the people “….

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  6. HH and his campaign team will resort to anything. There’s an audio going around accusing Lungu that he’s connived with the West to experiment on Zambians a cholera vaccine. The speaker says he’s in London but at the end he says he’s in Ndola Kansenshi where all sewer lines are broken and spewing faeces.

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  7. He is the Commander in Chief of all of tbe armed forces.

    Let ECL discharge his responsibilities and do whatever is necessary to contain the epidemic.

    Article makes a big fuss in favour of street vendors. They are only 10,000 out of Lusakas population of over 2,1 million.

    What about the rest of us, the 96% who are sick of living in filth and chaos arising from vending ?

    Wheelbarrows on main roads, piles of garbage everywhere, pavements taken over.

    The majority of Lusaka residents support ECL. Marketeers are for markets.

    Every municipal by-law has been abrogated. Health inspections and food vending licences do not apply ?

    You need to hire Gumboots to cross filth ? You “hire” a porter to carry you across the flooded filthy roads ? Foseki man !!!

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  8. For once a politician has stood up, disregarding the political consequences of vendor votes, and said enough is enough, let sanity prevail.

    Chiluba and Sata let vendors do whatever they want and got political mileage.

    If you want to sell raw cow heads in wheelbarrows, do so. You sell used underwear, sex charms, stolen tyres…. anything you want. Free for all. You bath in the roundabout fountains, do your washing there ?

    And all the excrement and filth is Governments problem ?

    What Lusaka needs is a good wash with sopa

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  9. The photo in the article says it all.

    Europeans would not even allow their dogs to stay there.

    So should zambia continue to live worse off than dogs ?

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  10. A village is only as strong as it’s weakest. In Zambia we have chosen to neglect those who have little choice or opportunity. In fact we really abuse them politically. We now even want to relegate them to being some form of s.c.u.m. We blame the opposition when these poor people cry out. We even say bafiko. What truly are we doing to ensure people can enjoy the very basic human rights of access to clean water and sanitation, health, food. The one with a full stomach always seems to be blind to the hungry man’s plight. But even a starving dog will surely eat his master one day.

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  11. So Lungu should have gone to the streets on his knees pleading ” bane napapata fumeni mumusebo, kabiyeni ku market.

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